Photo : @TennisHalloFame
Given the takeover of hard courts and baseline tennis over the past few decades, it is easy to forget how different the sport used to look when most of the events were played on grass and serve-and-volley was the primary tactic.
As the grass swing wrapped up this week on the ATP Tour, fans in Newport, fittingly the home of the tennis Hall of Fame, gave them a real taste of how the game used to be played on a regular basis.
Here’s what you need to know.
In Case You Missed It: Disappointing end to Felix’s rough grass swing
Over the past few seasons, grass has been a very positive surface for Félix Auger-Aliassime. But the 2022 swing was one to forget for the young Canadian.
Auger-Aliassime will transition to the summer hard courts having lost his final three matches on grass, including a first-round loss at Wimbledon and then ending with an opening-match defeat at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport at the hands of Australian Jason Kubler.
The match was decided in a third-set tiebreak, which was pushed over to a second day after fading light paused the match at 6-5 in the third set, which was won by Kubler, who just reached the last sixteen at Wimbledon earlier in July, 7-4.
Tiebreaks have become the bane of Auger-Aliassime’s existence in recent weeks. He won seven of the first nine he played this year and was 11-4 after reaching the final of Marseille. But starting with his semi-final loss in Halle, he has lost five of seven, including the final set of all three matches he has lost on his current skid.
In a fitting end to the grass-court season, it was the serve-and-volleying Maxime Cressy claiming the title, defeating Alexander Bublik in a third-set tiebreak in the final.
The victory was a cap on what has been a breakout season for the American, who claimed his first title in his third final of the year, second on grass where his serve-and-volley style is most effective, reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and upset Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon.
Cressy was not the only first-time titlist on the ATP Tour, as Francisco Cerundolo claimed his first trophy by defeating countryman Sebastian Baez in the final of the 250 event on clay in Bastad.
Cerundolo upset top seed and defending champion Casper Ruud in the second round and backed it up with three straight-set wins on his way to the title.
There were a pair of clay-court titles handed out this week on the WTA Tour.
Joining the parade of first-time champions was Bernarda Para of the United States, who won her first title in Budapest.
Para upset fifth seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round and did not drop a set on her way to the title, defeating Aleksandra Krunic to claim the trophy.
Former Roland-Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova was the top seed, but was upset in the first round by Xiyu Wang.
In Lausanne, Petra Martic became the only non-first-time titlist on either tour last week, winning her second career title, first since 2019, by defeating Olga Danilovic in the final. Martic had upset second seed and home favourite Belinda Bencic in the quarter-finals.
Like in Budapest, the top seed was upset in the first round when Danielle Collins lost to Simona Waltert of Switzerland.
What to Watch: July’s Clay Peak
It’s a quiet week in terms of Canadian content, with none competing on either tour.
The focus will be on the ATP 500 event in Hamburg, where Carlos Alcaraz leads a strong field that also includes world No. 8 Andrey Rublev, who opens against Newport runner-up Alexander Bublik and could meet last week’s Bastad champion Francisco Cerundolo in the second round.
Also competing in Hamburg is defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta and third seed Diego Schwartzman.
Casper Ruud is defending the second of his three titles in three weeks from 2021 this week. After falling early in Bastad, he will look for a better result in Gstaad where he is once again the top seed.
Gstaad sees the return of Matteo Berrettini, who is on a nine-match winning streak having won both tournaments he played on grass before having to miss Wimbledon with COVID.
World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit is the top seed at the WTA 250 event in Hamburg. Roland-Garros semi-finalist Martina Trevisan leads the field in Palermo.
Under the Radar: ITF lands in Saskatoon
A pair of Canadian men reached separate doubles finals last week on the ITF circuit.
Recent NCAA champion Cleeve Harper won the doubles title at the M15 event on clay in Pittsburgh with American partner Tyler Zink. The pair won a thrilling final 10-6 in the match tiebreak after splitting tiebreaks in the first two sets.
Harper had beaten fellow Canadian Joshua Lapadat in the semifinals.
Kelsey Stevenson reached the final of the M25 event in Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal alongside Ray Ho of Chinese Taipei. They were beaten 10-3 in the match tiebreak in the final by Rio Noguchi and Alexandros Skorilas.
The lone Canadian result of note on the women’s side was Vanessa Wong reaching the quarter-finals of the W15 event in Cancun, Mexico. As a qualifier, she upset the seventh seed in the second round before losing in the last eight to second seed Sofia Sewing.
Vasek Pospisil continues his road to recovery this week at an ATP Challenger event in Pozoblanco, Spain. Alexis Galarneau is competing at the ATP Challenger event in Indianapolis.
Canada will play host to the ITF women’s circuit this week with a W25 event in Saskatoon featuring a large contingent of Canadian women, including several of the nation’s promising junior stars such as two-time junior Grand Slam doubles finalists in 2022 Victoria Mboko and Kayla Cross.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.